What I Buy and Why: Actress and Model Celesta Hodge on Why Art Is the Best Kind of Therapy

The model tells us all about what she's looking to purchase next.

Celesta Hodge. Courtesy Celeta Hodge.

Celesta Hodge’s interest in art is probably genetic. The actress and model’s father was an architect, and she describes her mother as “very creative.”

Hodge eventually found her way into collection through the fashion industry. “I always found clothing to be a thing of beauty and highly artistic,” she told Artnet News. “Modeling helped finance my crypto-trading obsession, which supports my art collection.”

We caught up with Hodge about the works in her collection, what they mean to her, and what she’s looking to buy next.

What was your first purchase?

I was going through Tracey Emin’s deck from White Cube, and her neon piece, The last great adventure is you, touched me. I loved her abrasive yet intimate style. I was nervous since it was quite a pricey piece for my first purchase. Worth it? Absolutely! You never forget your first.

What was your most recent purchase?

A spectacular Conrad Shawcross piece that I’m in love with. The way he questions things like time, infinity, and the 5th dimension in his work speaks to me. And a beautiful Karon Davis painting. She’s such a talent in every medium, not to mention what she’s done for the community in L.A. with the Underground Museum.

Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?

Do you have enough space for my answer? Off the top of my head, let’s start with Anna Weyant, Sasha Gordon, Umar Rashid, Yukinori Yanagi, Mario Ayala, Kathleen Ryan, and I’m dying for some Bas Jan Ader pieces. Whether it is a known piece or something under the radar, I try to keep an open mind. Purchasing art is fluid, and it’s about what hits you in the moment.

A portrait of Celesta Hodge by Robert Graham.

A portrait of Celesta Hodge by Robert Graham.

What is the most expensive work of art that you own?

They’re not the most expensive, but they are my most priceless: an Oldenburg cigarette on my coffee table, which brings me so much joy, and a little portrait that Robert Graham did of me right before he passed. It’s beyond sentimental and meaningful. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of the day he penciled it.

Where do you buy art most frequently?

Word of mouth. Being out and about. My dear friends Eugenio Lopez, Patricia Marshall, Jeffrey Deitch, people I trust. I’m always listening. I’ve also made incredible finds randomly at galleries and auctions.

Is there a work you regret purchasing?

Never! I only regret ones that got away. And I’m too nostalgic to part with anything I’ve ever bought. Everything I’ve ever purchased is a treasure.

What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?

A Rudolf Stingel above the sofa, and Ed Ruscha in my bathroom.

Celesta Hodge with a Rudolf Stingel work.

What is the most impractical work of art you own?

I am the eternal optimist when it comes to my collection. Art is tangible and it evokes emotions, so when you think about it, it is more practical than therapy. You could say my art pieces are emotionally practical, no matter how ridiculously difficult they can be to move or install. Once they’re placed they are home.

What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?

I couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 when I went to a Richard Prince opening at Gagosian. I fell in love with the nurse paintings, particularly Nurse in Hollywood. If I had pooled all my money back then, my $300,000 investment would’ve been millions today. But more important, I would’ve been able to enjoy it for years.

If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?

Only one!? I would have to go with a giant Jeff Koons balloon dog. It would be a challenge to steal, but well worth the effort. I love that he created the “Celebration” series when he was going through one of the most difficult times in his life. It’s inspiring when artists channel pain into something beautiful to share with the world. Besides, I’ve always wanted to have a dog I didn’t have to feed and walk!

On the other hand, I’m longing for a Bruce Nauman sculpture. I find his work and philosophy endlessly fascinating. Constantly pushing the boundaries of art and its definition. I love it when artists can make you question what you think you already know.

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